The Mission and Discipleship Council is responsible for developing and supporting Elders and Office Bearers within the life of the church. As such it has produced a variety of publications and online materials, and runs events periodically.


Elders have a key leadership role in the life of Church of Scotland congregations. They can serve in a variety of leadership roles as a result of their membership of their congregation’s Kirk Session and in roles not specifically connected to the Kirk Session. They can also serve in a leadership capacity through contributing to the other courts of the Church of Scotland, which specifically require representation from Elders, namely Presbytery and the General Assembly.

More information about the role and training associated with it can be found on Learn Online.

Elders as Moderators of their own Kirk Sessions

An Elder or member of the Diaconate may moderate a meeting of their own Kirk Session although there are certain provisos:

  • that the Elder or Deacon has undertaken and successfully completed approved training for the role;
  • that the Elder or Deacon has discussed this training with their minister prior to applying for it;
  • that their minister has supplied a reference in support of their attendance at this training; and
  • having attended training the Kirk Session agrees in advance of the occasion that the Elder or Deacon is required to moderate.

For clarity, the parameters for the role of an Elder or Deacon who has been nominated by their minister to moderate their own Kirk Session is one that is to occur on an infrequent basis and is not intended to permit the minister of a charge to abdicate, on a more or less permanent basis, the responsibility of moderating the Kirk Session. Furthermore, the role, and this training resource, is not for those who will act as Interim Moderators in a vacancy situation, which is a completely different role.

For more information please refer to the training resource below, which has been developed for use in delivering an approved training session. It has been designed so that an individual designated by Presbytery can locally facilitate a training session without requiring to draft in an outside trainer with specialised expertise, for example from one of the Church of Scotland’s central departments.

Two of the handouts in the training resource are sample templates that can be adapted to suit your situation

We have developed some videos that can be used to supplement the training and are referred to in the training resource:

John Chalmers talks about the Act of the General Assembly that details the scope of this role.

Rosie Frew shares her ideas about effective moderating.

Lynne McEwen shares her ideas about the agenda of a Kirk Session meeting.

Congregational Office Bearers

Elders and non-Elders can serve in other roles or offices required for the running of a congregation. These include Session Clerk, Clerk to the Congregational Board, Treasurer and Safeguarding Officer.
More information about these roles can be found on the Office Bearers pages.

Long Service Certificates

Long service certificates, signed by the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, have to date been available for presentation to Elders and others in respect of not less than thirty years of service. At the General Assembly of 2015, it was agreed that further certificates could be issued at intervals of ten years thereafter. If should be noted that the certificates are to recognise period of service, which might not be the same as period of ordination (in the case of elders). In the case of Sunday School teachers and Bible Class leaders, the qualifying period is twenty-one years of service. Certificates are not issued posthumously. Applications for Long Service Certificates should be made by email to the Principal Clerk by the parish minister or by the Session Clerk on behalf of the Kirk Session. Certificates are not issued to the individual recipients, nor should individuals make application themselves.